At The Drive-In, Vaya

Jeanne Fury

By Jeanne Fury

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Before they split into the prog-operatic Mars Volta and the pounding but atmospheric Sparta, they were At the Drive-In, convulsing between the poles of brainy math-rock and exultant, liberating punk. Vaya is an adventurously gleaming collection of songs; there's careening beauty, a loveliness that blushes and breathes within the folds of the electrified rhythms, as howler Cedric Bixler strings words together in a paranoid slipstream of consciousness. "What if forensics finds the answer, what if they stole my fingerprints?" he cries on "Metronome Arthritis." "Rascuache" has the fluidity of chill electronica but its eruptions of mellifluous rock burn hard and bright like an emergency flare. The hard-charging "Heliotrope" hangs high guitar notes overhead while the pace shifts without dissonance, but the gentleness of "198d" is cut short with dramatic bursts of noise. If Rage Against the Machine had replaced some of their naked aggression with a deeper sense of grace, they might have begun to achieve what At The Drive-In did in these seven songs.